Hiring a bankruptcy attorney is one of the most important decisions you’ll make about getting a fresh start financially. There should be no question that you need an attorney to guide you. If you have questions about whether you need an attorney, see our earlier post here.
You’ll be providing lots of personal and confidential information to your attorney. Whoever you chose should be someone you feel comfortable with. Here are five things to keep in mind before you decide on a particular attorney.
Experience. This is more than just how many years has the attorney been licensed to practice law. What you need to look for is an attorney who regularly practices bankruptcy law. If you find an attorney who lists bankruptcy among other areas such as criminal defense, corporate formation, family law, personal injury law, wills and trusts and others, you might be getting someone who only dabbles in bankruptcy law. Bankruptcy is a highly specialized area of the law and the attorney you choose needs to be familiar with it because she does it every day.
Initial Consultation. If you’re still thinking about filing bankruptcy, but aren’t sure if it’s right for you, have an initial consultation with an attorney. A good attorney will take the time to explain the different chapters of bankruptcy, what each one does, what you can expect and give you a range for the likely fees.
What Qualities are Important? What are you looking for in your attorney? Do you just want someone to get the job done as quickly and as inexpensively as possible? Do you want someone who will take the time to answer your questions? Every attorney has different strengths. What you want is someone whose strengths match your needs.
How Will the Attorney Communicate with You? Will the attorney take phone calls? Reply to texts or emails? During office hours or after hours and on weekends? Will the response come from the attorney or a paralegal or secretary? Attorneys need down time too, so just because she is unavailable after hours or on weekends doesn’t mean she is indifferent about your case. But if you want someone who will answer your question on a Saturday evening at 9:30, you need to look for someone who will. Ask about the attorney’s policies for returning calls and inquiries.
It’s Not All About Cost. Bankruptcy attorneys understand: your finances are a mess and you don’t have a lot of money to spend on a bankruptcy. But you need to understand that the lowest cost doesn’t mean the best attorney. It’s like a car. All cars will get you from Point A to Point B. The differences are in the amenities. Pretty much every bankruptcy attorney will get you a discharge. The differences are in what else the attorney offers. The first four areas above are some of the “options” that are available. If you choose the lowest price model, you probably won’t get a lot of personal interaction with the attorney. Calls might go unreturned. Questions might be unanswered.
We take pride in being there for clients every step of the way. We understand that your bankruptcy is a big deal to you, one of the most difficult decisions you’ll probably make in your life, and you deserve someone to be there for you, not someone who just prepares the papers and sits with you at the meeting of creditors. If you have questions about bankruptcy. please contact us.